Locker Room Talk: Gender-Neutral Gym 'SF Squared' To Open On Valencia

Starting with the Mission, San Francisco will soon see its first gender-neutral gym and training facility.

Cooper, a former adult movie star, is the owner and mastermind behind SF Squared, which will be located at 1470 Valencia St. (near 26th St.).

Similar in concept to CrossFit, Cooper’s gym will promote form and slower movements to avoid injury. He and his trainers will also work to infuse an element of fun into their workouts.

“Smart fit, safe fun,” Cooper said, explaining the gym’s name. “SF Squared.”

Cooper, who was born and raised in Toronto, has worked in fitness on and off for 20 years. Although he’s always wanted to be a physical education instructor, he never considered it to be a viable career.  

He pursued opportunities in television broadcasting and production before getting into the porn industry when the economy tanked in 2007. When he retired from adult films, he reset his sights on his longtime dream: teaching people about fitness.

Cooper helping a fitness client to practice good form. | Photo: SF Squared/Facebook

“The idea originally came out of a trend that I was seeing, that there’s a lack of physical education in fitness,” Cooper said, “and that fitness was focused on outcomes and results rather than education.”

Cooper got his requisite certifications and is opening his flagship fitness facility and training center at 1470 Valencia St., possibly as early as next month. SF Squared’s first location will start as a training center for trainers and clients, and gym enrollment will open in the fall of 2018.

“We want this to be our model location,” Cooper said, “our proof of concept. It’s small, but after one year, we’ll look for a larger location.”

SF Squared’s owner told us he’s hoping to secure a larger location somewhere in or around the Castro to serve as a facility to train with clients, host training education classes and open a gender-neutral gym. Earlier today, he launched a fundraising campaign to get a larger space for SF Squared off the ground. 

In the meantime, if you’re looking to get a workout, SF Squared trainers provide $10 boot camp classes to the community in Duboce Park. Cooper is also developing a “fitness fund” to offer fitness scholarships to community members who qualify, as well as an app. 

Race Cooper. | Photo: SF Squared/Facebook

Why a gender-neutral gym?

“It’s an issue that’s important in today’s world,” Cooper said, “not just for the LGBT community, but for equality between men and women.”

SF Squared will have one locker room with changing rooms, similar to the fitting rooms you’d find in a clothing store, and self-contained showers side-by-side.

From a business owner’s perspective, Cooper told us that it’s actually more cost effective to have one locker for all genders, instead of one for women and one for men.

“You save construction and maintenance costs,” Cooper said, “and you save space. We’ve been in this dichotomy that’s led to not just gender inequality, but of costing us more, and we just go along with it.”

SF Squared trainers offer boot camp classes to the community in Duboce Park. | Photo: SF Squared/Facebook

In addition to gender-neutral locker rooms, Cooper also has a goal to hire 20 percent of his trainers and support staff that identify as trans or gender-neutral.

“Trans individuals are underemployed,” Cooper said. “By incorporating them into SF Squared, I want to try to elevate awareness in the community and showcase trans people as an example of how gender neutrality can work.”

“I’m trying to change things,” he added, “and help trans people be seen.”

To contribute to the expansion of SF Squared to the Castro, visit the Indiegogo fundraiser here

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